Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to keep using Windows XP



Well it's no secret that Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. But what can you do to minimize your risks if you still need it for a legacy application, or an older device? Some older programs won't run on newer versions of Windows. Fear not fellow nerds, I have a few possible solutions.


Option 1: (You will use these steps for all methods listed)

If you must use XP as your main operating system, you have to do all you can to minimize your risk. Here are few steps you can take to minimize risk, pay attention to my wording. There is still risk! First of all you need to run your machine as “standard user” or limited account. I do this on all versions of Windows. Malicious code will have a harder time executing without “admin” rights. The average user will only need admin rights to install a program. Next switch to a browser that will continue support XP. DO NOT USE “Internet Explorer 8”. IE8 is unsupported now, and it's not safe to browse with. Use a good anti-virus, as you know I am the king of free programs, but this is a case where you need dedicated support, and free probably won't cut it. You need an anti-virus service that will provide an active firewall. As much as hate to say it, going with a Norton or McAfee is probably your best bet. Last but not least, don't keep your important documents on this XP machine, back them up to an external hard drive or DVD. If something on your XP machine can alter your life in a negative way, it needs to be stored somewhere else. It's not worth the risk.


Option 2: The Virtual Machine


If you are using “Windows 7 Professional” or “Windows 7 Ultimate” you already own a free copy of XP!  Sorry “Windows 7 Home” users, you will have to upgrade. But that doesn't mean you have re-install your system, just purchase an upgrade card. It will unlock this feature. Wait, wheres my disk? No disk needed. XP Mode is really a “virtual machine” or VM as we in the IT field say. A VM is a program that emulates computer hardware, and there is no shortage of amazing VM software out there. Such as the free Oracle Virtual box. We'll just focus on the Microsoft Virtual PC or XP-Mode. Simply follow the instructions & download and install the programs in the order recommended.
Heres the link  :Download your free XP Virtual Machine


Once you start up your new VM you will set it up just like any XP computer. You are essentially running two computers at the same time! They can even be networked and share files with each other! Whats the catch? Your VM, like a real computer needs resources. RAM, CPU, etc. So you will need a computer with enough power to run your VM smoothly. I would recommend a Quad Core CPU, and at least 8GB or RAM. You can then assign 4GB of RAM to your VM, and your host system still has 4GB to run the system. The good news is when your VM is shutdown, or hibernating it doesn't use any system resources! You also want go into your BIOS and enable Virtualization, or Hyper Threading if you have those options. Now that your XP-VM is running like a champ, understand the risks. There is specialized malware that attacks VM's! Some of which will actually try to escape into the host system. That sucks right? Yes the bad guys go after everything, so minimize risk by using what I state in “Option 1” on your VM. Even though your XP machine is Virtual, it still needs anti virus, etc. Treat it like a real computer!


Option 3: The Dual Boot


Dual boot your favorite XP computer! This is amazing easy. Using a partition editor such as the free “G-Parted”. Shrink your XP installation on your hard Drive. Free up whatever space you can. Then format the free partition to NTFS. Once you have done this pop your Windows 7 disk in and install alongside your XP partition. Windows is intelligent enough to understand what you are trying to do here and will make the proccess very simple. Once everything is installed your computer will show a screen where if no selection is made Windows 7 will boot, or you have a few seconds to press “Older Versions of Windows” where XP will boot. Take note, for the dual boot installation to work properly the older XP should be installed first, then the newer OS. It will not work vise versa. Back to minimizing the risk, refer to “Option 1” of the article for your XP partition. Always make it as secure as you can.



Final thoughts:

Though in the last few years I have grown tired of supporting XP,  I'd be lying if I didn't tell you a part of me is sad to see XP go. I was computer illiterate before XP. I learned how to do everything from surf the web, to fix complex problems. It just worked for me, and it did everything I needed it to.  It sparked my interest in computing, and because of that I now work in the IT industry. Every now and then a company gets it right, and something amazing is built. The Corvette, the Fender Stratocaster, and in this case a piece of software by Microsoft. It's impossible to deny the amazing run Windows XP had. It was released in 2001, and ran all the way to 2014. After 13 years of dedicated service, I do believe a well deserved retirement is in order.


Thanks for reading, and don't forget to visit the online store! AzPcTech
NewbZilla